A Guide to Buying a Home In Qatar
Essential Information and Unbiased Opinion
Since 2004 foreigners have been able to buy property in designated areas of Qatar. The three main areas are The Pearl, West Bay lagoon and Al Khor but other places are now becoming available. The Pearl and property in Lusail is currently being promoted the hardest, but if you ring Barwa (see below for number) they will offer you other areas.
Update: Prices have both soared and plunged since we first wrote this article. However, Qatar property continues to offer advantages other than that of a pure investment/second home: namely, freedom from tax and right of residence.
Qatar Property Movie
Qatar can experience severe fluctuations in the prices of property. In a few short months in 2008 property in some areas fell by 50%.
Prices are sometimes quoted in riyals, sometimes in dollars and sometimes in Euros. 1 dollar is equal to 3.64 riyals. The currency is tied to the dollar, and so is not subject to short term fluctuations.
The Pearl, Qatar
- Man-made island constructed on former pearl diving reef linked by causeway to main land.
- 2.5 billion dollar, 985 acre development which will create 30km of new coastline. According to The Pearl Qatar's website it will have 40,000 residents and 11,000 villas, town homes, penthouses and apartments.
- Aims to develop Mediterranean atmosphere and style. Will essentially be a gated and self sufficient community, completely shut off from all the riff-raff like me!
- Shops will be targeted at the "top end of the market" i.e. expensive (but there are loads of shops in the City Center mall a few minutes away).
- Will contain three marinas and berths for 700 boats and three five star hotels. There will also be "canals, lakes and internal navigable coves"!
How High Above Sea-Level Are The Properties?
Marina houses are two metres above sea-level, other properties 8 metres.
The Pearl's representative claims you don't need a lawyer, but you can make your own mind up about that. You sign a standard agreement reserving your right for occupation with the legal department of The Pearl. When you make the final payment you get the title of the property. You have to register the property with the land department at your own cost.
At the Pearl at least the property is completely freehold. Purchase will consist of an initial 20% deposit. The rest is payable in installments over the next two years, with the final 5% paid on completion. Mortgages can be used to pay up to 85% of the price.
You pay for the registration of your property with the land department. There is no capital gains or inheritance tax. If you sell your property before it has been completed you pay a 2.5% transfer fee. The developer also has first right of refusal. However, these conditions end when you have taken complete possession of the property.
Is Property Selling Well?
Property in Qatar continues to shift in 2009, although things are slower than they were. Investors buying property to flip have left the arena, but ordinary residents in Qatar continue to buy.
Is There A Shortage Then?
Yes! While, buildings are shooting up everywhere, so is the mostly immigrant population of Qatar - although there are fears that when the huge of amount of property currently being built comes online the situation could be reversed.
Qatar also has huge plans for its infrastructure which should see major investment over the next few years, which should help maintain support for the property sector.
What About Visas?
When you buy a property you can obtain residency for you and your dependents. This is guaranteed as long as you are "disease free" (this refers to infectious diseases like HIV and TB), and you do not have a criminal record. You have to organize the visa yourself (or pay someone to do it for you). This involves going to immigration (not the most fun place in the world) and providing proof of ownership. You can also obtain residency for your dependents. This includes parents, wives, husbands and children. According to the Pearl's representative, when children get married they are no longer considered to be dependents.
Note it is well worth paying someone to do your paperwork/immigration for you. If you do so it is not normally necessary to go to immigration in person. This should really be done for you by the developer, as it would both save you a lot of hassle and time and cost them peanuts.
Renting Out Property
Expatriates are allowed to rent out property and can either do so through an agency or by themselves. They retain their residency when renting out property.
Restaurants and cafes on The Pearl will have alcohol licenses.
Who Do I Buy From?
With The Pearl you can buy through agents or directly from the developers.
The best sometimes the only way to get hold of these guys is to ring them. There are only two of many below, but they answered the phone (not as usual as you might expect, especially just before Ramadan), were helpful and spoke good English.
Barwa (0974 499-8888) have no email or website but their receptionists speak good English. They also sell in other areas besides The Pearl, and have land for sale.
Mirage Mirage actually have a website (http://www.mirageproperty.com/) and an email address:firstname.lastname@example.org, (they don't actually reply, so maybe it's just an illusion).
Their agent in Qatar is Ab Sher: Mobile: 5710790 Office 4444431 extension 123. Address: P.O. Box 22621, Doha, Qatar.On-line Estate Agents Findaproperty.com sometimes have properties listed on-line.
What Reasons Are There To Buy?
Well, have you thought about taxes? This is a tax free country. If you are living here for the long term, or want to rent your property, rents are sky high rental yields are currently 10% according to this article. Of course, there's no guarantee these rents will remain high.
The government is putting a huge effort into developing the country (with plans to invest 150 billion dollars over the next five years) and is obviously trying to follow in Dubai's footsteps.
If you are planning to live here:
Sounds Good. Any Reasons NOT to Buy?
If you are planning to live here:
Qatar is great for a few days, and is developing rapidly. However, you need to be sure you could live here in the long term. A few things to consider are:
Where isn't there a terrorist threat? I'm from London and there have been a lot fewer deaths here than in London. Having said that, we are in the Middle East, close to Saudi Arabia. There is perhaps a danger that Qatar's modernization and liberalization could make it a target for terrorists.
See our Qatar Property Links and Resources page for extensive links to property websites, including real estate developers, real estate news and estate agents.
The Pearl-Qatar: PO Box 7256, Doha, State of Qatar